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Russian accused of killing Swiss air traffic controller pleads not guilty


ZURICH, October 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Vitaly Kaloyev, charged with the murder of a Swiss air traffic controller on duty during the 2002 airplane collision over Germany that killed his wife and children, pleaded not guilty in a Zurich court Tuesday.

"I did not come to Switzerland to kill someone," Kaloyev said. "If I had had the intention to kill someone, I wouldn't have waited for one-and-a-half to two years."

He said he had gone to the air traffic controller's, Peter Nielsen, house to show him the photos of his children who had died in the crash. But he said Nielsen had hit his hand and motioned him to leave.

Kaloyev said the envelope containing the photos had fallen out of his hands. "I was unaware of what I was doing. It seemed to me my children were turned in their coffins and thrown out of them. I don't remember, I don't know what I was doing," he said.

However, Kaloyev said all the evidence was lined up against him. "The evidence shows that I killed him. But I can't say what it was like in reality, what was inside my head."

On July 2, 2002, a Bashkir Airlines Tu-154 passenger jet on a charter flight from Moscow to Barcelona collided with a DHL Boeing-757 cargo plane en route from Bahrain to Brussels. The crash occurred over Germany, 120 kilometers south of Stuttgart. There were no survivors.

The Russian plane was carrying 57 passengers, including 52 children from Bashkortostan on their way to a seaside vacation in Spain and 12 crewmembers. The Boeing-757 had no passengers aboard. The collision occurred a few minutes after German air traffic controllers had handed over responsibility of the Russian plane to their Swiss colleagues.

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